VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - An attorney is suing the owners of Wild West Domains, accusing them of "cybersquatting" and "porn-napping."
Diane Fener, an attorney in Virginia Beach, said she was humiliated when she discovered pornographic material at a Web address she previously had used for her business.
In the suit, Fener claims that she purchased advertising - including the website DianeFenerLaw.com - from Thompson/West. When she stopped doing business with the company, she said, the domain name lapsed and Wild West Domains owners Robert D. Parsons and Michael Zimmerman acquired the domain name. Fener said Parsons and Zimmerman attached the pornographic website Blind Date Bangers to the domain.
"Persons searching for family-law keywords in Yahoo! would see Diane Fener's name and the www.dianefenerlaw.com domain name in the results," the suit reads. "However, if they clicked on the link, they saw BDB's pornographic website."
Fener claims that she became aware of the pornographic material linked to her former site on Nov. 18, 2006. She said she purchased the domain name back on Nov. 24, 2006, from credoNIC.com, which uses the same physical address as Wild West Domains, and removed the pornographic material.
The suit does not say when the domain name DianeFenerLaw.com lapsed or when Fener originally purchased the name.
Fener is seeking a jury trial and more than $3 million in damages from Parsons, Zimmerman, Wild West Domains, credoNic.com and Blind Date Bangers for unauthorized use of her name, defamation, harassment by computer and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In the suit, Fener claims that the companies involved knowingly acquired expiring domain names to resell them at a profit (cyber-squatting) and attached pornographic sites to the names in an effort to have the original owners buy them back (porn-napping).
Fener claims that the practice has caused her to "suffer great mortification, humiliation and severe emotional distress."
A representative of Wild West Domains categorically dismissed the claims Fener made in the suit.
"Anyone can file a lawsuit, however the facts are the facts," said the company's communication director, Nick Fuller. "The domain name, DianeFenerLaw.com, is not now, nor has it ever been, registered with Wild West Domains. The hosting is not affiliated with our group either. The domain name transfer allegations are incorrect, as well. The registrant attempted a transfer in December 2006, but it failed. There is nothing to indicate that Robert D. Parsons - not to be confused with Robert R. Parsons, who owns Wild West Domains - or Michael Zimmerman ever had any involvement in this domain name."
The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of the City of Portsmouth. A hearing date was not immediately available.